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Biological effects of laser-accelerated ion bursts

Biological effects of laser-accelerated ion bursts

PhD project title and outline, including interdisciplinary dimension: 
Biological effects of laser-accelerated ion bursts

The use of ion beams in cancer radiotherapy is an emerging approach, which exploits the advantageous energy deposition properties of ions as compared to commonly used X-rays. While most existing centres employ protons, the interest in heavier ion species is growing, particularly in relation to a wide class of radioresistant tumours. The high cost of the facilities required is a limiting factor to the growth of ion therapy, and the use of laser-accelerated beams as a future cost-saving alternative is attracting significant interest worldwide.

Based on emerging laser-driven mechanisms for efficient acceleration of both protons and heavier ion species, our research aims to progress laser-based acceleration to therapeutically relevant parameters. Testing the biological effects of laser-accelerated beams is a key objective, with particular attention to any novel effects related to the ultrahigh dose rates (>10^9 Gy/s) that can be delivered to cells by the laser driven ion bursts (emitted at the soutce in bursts of picosecond duration).

Within this framework, the PhD project will aim to develop a platform enabling the assessment of the radiobiological effectiveness of laser-accelerated ion beams. The production and delivery of ion beams at energies and particle densities suitable for radiobiological investigations will be pursued in experiments at major high-power laser facilities in UK and abroad.  Employing these beams, the project will test, with relevant assays in cell and tissue models, with a focus on radioresistant cell lines, the quality and quantity of DNA damage produced by the laser-driven carbon ions, which will be comparatively assessed against irradiations employing protons, x-rays and conventional ion bunches from RF accelerators.  This is an intrinsically interdisciplinary project, which applies complementary skills available in CPP and CCRCB, augmented by the unique opportunities provided by our international collaborators at ELI Beamlines.

Primary supervisor: Professor M. Borghesi (Maths & Physics)
Secondary supervisor: Professor Kevin Prise (Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences)
External Partner/Organisation: The Institute of Physics of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic (IP-ASCR)